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Dr. Kirshner's Legacy to Northern California Print E-mail
By Joyce Laforteza   
February 13, 2012
Tournament hall

On Sunday, February 5, while many people watched the Super Bowl, young people between the ages of 4 and 13 turned out to play chess in the largest non-State or National Championship ever held in Northern California.   Five hundred and forty individuals registered for The CalNorth Youth Chess Age Level Championships with only 515 players showing in the final results.  The Super Bowl appears to have taken its toll despite the offer of a special Super Bowl bye for the last game.

Dr. Kirshner
Five years ago Dr. Alan Kirshner decided he wanted to hold a chess championship to celebrate his 70th birthday.  An age level made sense. All the events in Northern California were either by rating or grade level.  He offered a free entry for anyone born on his birthday, February 1 and a half-price entry for all other Aquarians.  Two hundred and eighty five players showed up that first year—2008.  Dr. Kirshner has been known for drawing large numbers of young players since he began organizing tournaments in 1993.  In 2006, a year before he decided that large events were wearing him down and it was time to let someone else run the States, his CalChess State Scholastic Championships drew 1319 players.   The State has not seen a tournament that large since.

When asked how he can draw so many young people to a chess event, Dr. Kirshner responded:  “I work closely with large chess programs and most of all show respect to all the parents and players.  Most people feel like they are attending a family event and not a for profit enterprise.   Oh, and the efficiency of the organization of the events helps, especially an abundance of decorative informational signs.”

This year the CalNorth Youth Chess Age Level obtained the sponsorship of two major chess programs—Ted Castro’s NorCal House of Chess and Success Chess School.  The endorsement of a number of other large chess programs almost doubled the number of players from previous years.  Success Chess School supplied the extra chess sets needed for such a large group of players. The NorCal House of Chess, that recently held a successful International event drawing many Grand Masters and International Masters to our city of Fremont, provided book awards to all the first place winners in all ten age groups.

Thirty-eight volunteers, mostly from Dr. Kirshner’s Weibel Elementary School Chess Team, supplemented by parents from programs in Foster City and San Carlos made sure things ran smoothly.  National Tournament Director John Mc Cumiskey headed up a staff of  21 certified TD’s and 15 Assistant TD’s.

Yet, what made the event the success that it was came about due to the weather and the location.  The sun shone the whole day with temperatures in the 60’s.  The site of the tournament, the Newark Pavilion in Newark California provided an old world family atmosphere.  The Sociedade Do Espirito Santo, a Portuguese immigrant community society, own the site and their members were very hospitable to all the families providing a warmth comparable to the weather.  Best of all they sold the meals and snacks at a fair and just price not found in any convention center or hotel.  At no time were they concerned about families bringing their own food into the buildings or the courtyards.  That is always a hassle when dealing with hotels and convention centers.

A number of chess activities rounded out the day in the courtyard where two large chess sets provided fun for the players and tables were set up for parents and children to play chess.  International Master Ricardo de Guzman, IM-Elect Ronald Cusi, National Master Emmanuel Perez and Expert Francisco Anchondo  analyzed players’ games.  Ten year old FIDE Master Tanuj Vasudeva, a Newark resident, played a four hour simul with parents and some of the players in the match.  He won 34 of his 35 games.  Weibel sixth grader Kevin Moy, an Expert, decided to try his hand at a simul and won 4 of his games.

 The soccer balls and other games filled the courtyard. There was even one of those bicycle driven ice-cream venders who was happy to sell-out everything he had in his freezer.

Weibel Elementary School, the 2010 National Primary School co-champions, ruled the day in the two large halls where the age groups played.  They won five of the eight Team titles—6, 7, 8, 10, 11.  Horner Junior High School, composed mostly of former Weibel players took the 13 year old division.  Regnart Elementary School from Cupertino, CA won the 9 year old section and almost upset Weibel in the 10 year old division.   Tierra Linda Junior High School from San Carlos won the 12 year old section.  The 4-5 age group and the special 4-9 Open division did not have team competition.  Most of the age groups sported from 10 to 19 teams.

Today Dr. Kirshner was asked how he felt physically after his extremely successful event. He said, “Well, I felt like I was 74. Oh yeah, now that I think about it, I am 74.  Oh, well.”

List of Top winners:

4-5 YRS. OLD         Ajay Anubolu (Weibel Elementary)
6 YRS. OLD            Steven Hwang (Neil Cummins Elementary)
7 YRS. OLD            Austin Li (Chadbourne Elementary)
                                 Louis Law (Weibel Elementary)
8 YRS. OLD           Aditya Tadimeti (Challenger-Ardenwood)
                                Daniel Hwang (Neil Cummins Elementary)
                                 Enya Mistry (Weibel Elementary)
9 YRS. OLD           Jeremy Ding (Regnart Elementary)
                                Rishabh Raj (Ardenwood Elementary)

The older players, 10, 11, 12, 13, and the 4-9 Open Division had longer time controls in a separate building.  They played 4 rounds of game in 60 with a 5 second time delay.  The younger competitors had 5 rounds in 30 minutes with a 5 second time delay.
10 YRS. OLD       Jeffrey Wei (Chadbourne Elementary)
                               Albert  Qui (Collins Elementary)
                               Georgiy Bondar (Regnart Elementary)
                              Serafina Show (Weibel Elementary)
11 YRS. OLD       Steven Li (Weibel Elementary)
                               Rahul Srinivas (Discovery Charter)
                                      Ladia Jirasek (Del Mar Middle)
                                      Joseph Zhang (Monticello Academy)
12 YRS. OLD       Sahlik Khan (Miller Middle School)
13 YRS. OLD       Justin Wang (Horner Junior High School)

The 4-9 Open age group had many of the strongest young players in Northern California competing. Anthony Zhou (1712) 9 year old fourth grade student from Weibel won the section.
Links –

Final Standings at Cal North Youth Chess
USCF rated results on MSA


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